Expect a big game from Colin Kaepernick. Because Green Bay's defense is typically in a giving spirit. Because he's been running more lately and seems to have a found his dual-threat rhythm. Because it seems something about this young man relishes these moments.

Expect to see some Kaepernicking. Since it will probably be colder than a polar bear's toenails, Kaepernicles is more appropriate.

And such would be the best sign. Nothing says Super Bowl like him clicking. The 49ers could win Sunday with a dominant defense and a ball-control offense. They are better than the Packers. But a bigger statement would be a dominant performance from Kaepernick. That would put the rest of the NFC on notice and give Seattle something to think about.

Kaepernick is the 49ers' X-factor. Their defense is formidable and will keep them in most games. Their bread and butter is the run game, and no one can doubt the importance of Frank Gore and that offensive line. But Kaepernick is what makes these 49ers dynamic. He's what elevates them from a solid team to Super Bowl viable.

That's why the pressure is on Kaepernick. Being the reason to believe the 49ers can pull off a run makes him the easy target if they don't. Despite having to win three games to get to New Jersey for Super Bowl XLVIII, most likely all on the road, the task is manageable if Kaepernick is the explosive playmaker giving defenses fits.

A big postseason is how he proves last season wasn't a fluke. Starting with a productive performance against Green Bay, he begins to erect his own legacy.

Many have forgotten about how special Kaepernick was during last season's playoff run. In three postseason games, he threw for 798 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 264 yards and three touchdowns. He gouged defenses with his feet and threw zip-lines from his arms.

That's the Kaepernick you're going to see Sunday, when the 49ers beat the Packers on their home ice.

That stoicism you see in news conferences becomes a benefit in the playoffs. Those darts of doubt people have thrown at him all season have been harnessed for the chip-on-the-shoulder edge that helps him respond in the biggest moments.

He's been inconsistent enough this season to warrant some concern. Many regret giving up the accurate Alex Smith in favorite of the wild card that is Kaepernick. He might miss an open receiver or two, or not see a sack coming every now and again. But he doesn't turn the ball over. And he has that something special that tends to shine in the postseason.

In the last two regular-season games, playoff atmospheres against Atlanta and at Arizona, he made some clutch throws. A sign he's ready for the task at hand.

Kaepernick has all his weapons in tow: Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis -- plus an added bonus in Quinton Patton. He has a defense more than good enough to give him some leeway, and perhaps a few short fields. He has the experience of having done it before.

Expect a big game from Kaepernick.

Contact Marcus Thompson II at mthomps2@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ThompsonScribe.

Inside
Andrew Luck (above) leads stunning Colts comeback; Saints win on field goal in final seconds. PAGE 6
Sunday's AFC game
San Diego at Cincinnati, 10:05 a.m. CBS